A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Mark Horn
Arranmore is a group of veteran musicians who have taken their case to a popular culture that is unaware of the riches of our folk community. They also confront those within the folk community who resent any popular approach to folk and ethnic music. I see their work as a wonderful opportunity to reach out to a wider listening audience and expose those listeners to the music we love so well.
The harmonies and stylings of Arranmore are right out of the 60's folk scene. Their mentor and guest on ANOTHER CHAPTER is Tommy Makem, founder of the Clancy Brothers and icon of popular Irish music. The band chose to include a wide array of musical genre and styles including Celtic, Cajun, traditional, ballads, honky-tonk, and island pop. Their diverse backgrounds and years of club and concert word give them the tools to pull it off.
My favorite song on this album is "Homecoming!" an original song by guitarist and lead vocalist Kevin O'Donnell. A jaunty island pop offering with harmonies that are reminiscent of the Statler Brothers. The lyrics have all the genuine sentiment of a ballad by Bill Staines or Cheryl Wheeler. It makes me think more of a Saturday night New England contra dance than sea breeezes, Jimmy Buffet, and those funny coconut drinks with little umbrellas.
Another selection that really caught my attention was the other original song "Hooley On A Saturday Night." A hard-driving roadhouse rollick, it gives the boys a chance to kick out the stops and show their best stuff. This is great fun!
Tommy Makem became associated with Arranmore early in the band's existence. Originally a traditional Irish group, the group still performs celtic and Irish music, including Makem's "Farewell To Carlingford." Tommy joins the band and contributes his classic stylings on lead vocals. The result is the type of up-tempo anthem that Makem fans have loved for more than thirty years.
The engineering was good, however, production decisions left some of the lead vocals a bit far back in the mix. Some nice-sounding cuts could have been truly brilliant with more creative production. It is suprising that musicians of this caliber were not allowed to showcase their talent better.
Arranmore's accessibility has the potential to reach a wide audience. Their success will benefit a wide number of artists. If Arranmore can introduce folk music to those who might not otherwise be attracted, they will make a deep and lasting impression. ANOTHER CHAPTER is an excellent vehicle for that effort.
[Edited by: David M. Schultz]
Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
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